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Custom Made Leathercraft for Unique Souvenirs & Gifts

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Custom Made Leathercraft for Unique Souvenirs & Gifts

You want something different, you can find it at High 5 Custom Leather • Credit: Duncan Weller

Hide 5 Leather

From buckskins to bikinis, you will find many one-of-a-kind creations.

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Handmade leather products created by Don Bayes from Hide 5 Leather may be that one-of-a-kind souvenir or gift you may be looking for on a visit to Thunder Bay.

Bayes is a self-described well-groomed mountain man, who can be found surrounded by the tools and raw materials of his many trades in his small shop now at 115 May St. South. Stepping into his shop located in the Fort William Business District on Thunder Bay's south side is an introduction into another world.

To do what Don does, you need an industrial sewing machine, shears, head knives, skivers, edge bevellers, carving tools, mauls, mallets, lacing, threads, needles and of course all the basic raw materials: leather, fur, stone, bone, wood, antler and horn. All on display in the shop.

Producing one-of-a-kind creations, “from buckskins to bikinis,” requires a diverse skill set. This allows Don to create unique items for steampunk and cosplay fans, 18th century re-enactors, the Society for Creative Anachronism, bikers, and enthusiasts and members of our First Nations community.

He has created museum grade reproductions of porcupine work, knife cases, ceremonial pipe bags and a complete Viking kit for one enthusiast, which included a Viking helmet, a shield, sword, spear and drinking horn.

Don also builds knives and makes the bows, arrows, bowstrings, quivers and arm guards for archery sets. And as a blacksmith, Don makes and builds a diverse line of metal work.

Materials, like sting-ray leather (yes, the fish) come from as far away as Thailand. Most of his raw materials are local, hides and leathers from cow, sheep, elk, deer. Fur comes from badgers, otters, martin, ermine, skunk, coyote, and once in a blue moon, wolf, which is very expensive.

Steady work keeps Don self-employed, and the variety of work he does has kept him motivated for over 45 years. Sharing his knowledge, when required, in classroom settings, Don has also taught primitive living skills and coached archery. With a fascination for First Nations and cowboy culture, Don stays close to the land as an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman.

If you want that unique leather and metal piece, something that is going to last, you can see Don’s work on display in his May Street shop with a photo album of commission work sitting on his counter. You can also check out his work on the Hide 5 Leather website and the ETSY website for all things handmade.  Hide 5 also has a Facebook page, or you can simply call Don at (807) 767-7430. 

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